Ag minister says sector will lead economy out of decline

Saskatchewan agriculture minister David Marit talks about COVID-19 and agriculture June 16 with Cherilyn Jolly-Nagel at Canada’s Farm Show. | Canada's Farm Show photo

Saskatchewan was the country’s second largest agri-food exporter last year with $16.9 billion in sales around the world

Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit recently placed his hopes in the agricultural sector to lead the province out of the pandemic-induced economic decline.

Marit, who spoke at Canada’s Farm Show on June 16, praised the agriculture sector’s COVID-19 response.

He said 2020 was a record year for Saskatchewan, with $16.9 billion in agriculture exports, and the second largest harvest on record at 39.9 million tonnes.

Saskatchewan’s exports were valued at more than $30 billion, which was a 31 percent increase from 2019. In 2020, Saskatchewan was the country’s second-largest agri-food exporter.

“This past year reinforced Saskatchewan’s global reputation as a dependable source of safe, high quality resources, goods and products,” Marit said.

He credited everyone in the industry for the success.

“Our producers and agribusiness also did an exceptional job of adopting supply chains to meet the challenges of the pandemic.

“This innovation and adaptability will continue to be important as our industry leads our economic recovery.”

The pandemic also brought food and agriculture to the forefront of the conversation.

Marit said 2020 reinforced the importance of having a reliable and secure food supply.

At the start of the pandemic, many grocery stores ran out of necessary foods because of panic buying.

“Agriculture has always been such a big part of Canada’s economy,” said Cherilyn Jolly-Nagle, a farmer and a host at the show. “But we kind of tread the line under the radar.

“But the spotlight is now on agriculture. And it’s not just because of COVID, but COVID exacerbated it.”

Jolly-Nagle said it’s important for farmers to talk with people and educate them on farming so misinformation isn’t spread.

Marit said the spotlight is also on farming because consumers are showing more interest in agriculture.

“Food has become the number one priority in a lot of people’s eyes.”

Canada’s Farm Show, normally a Regina-based event, was held online June 16-17.

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